Guest Author - Kevin Thorburn
The Los Angeles Kings began play in the 1967-68 season as one of the expansion teams that caused the National Hockey League to swell to twelve teams from the “Original Six.” They won their first game 14 October 1967 against the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. The Kings, owned by Jack Kent Cooke, went on to finish second in the Western Division with a very respectable record of 31 wins, 33 losses and 10 ties.
The Kings have never won a Stanley Cup, the trophy awarded to the champions of the NHL. The 1992-93 season marked the closest they would get to the prize as they were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup final in five games.
Prominent players to don the team’s uniform over its history feature: Marcel Dionne, Rogie Vachon, Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer, Bernie Nicholls and Wayne Gretzky. Uniform numbers that have been retired by the team include Dionne’s number 16, Taylor’s number 18, Vachon’s number 30 and Gretzky’s number 99.
The line of Dionne, Taylor and Simmer provided a punch proving to be one of the best in the league’s history. They became known as the “Triple Crown Line” and terrorized opponents for over two full seasons. In 1979-80 Dionne finished the regular season with 137 points to lead the league. Simmer totaled 101 points, including 56 goals and Taylor added a formidable 90 points.
In 1988 the team made headlines that rocked the hockey world when it was announced that they had acquired Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade. This emotional moment was captured on the 1988-89 Topps hockey card number 120 with Gretzky holding up his new uniform. In 1996 Gretzky asked to be traded to a contending team and was subsequently dealt to the St. Louis Blues.
Some impressive team records include: Luc Robitaille scoring the most goals by a left winger with 63 – this is also an NHL record; Luc Robitaille scoring the most points by a left winger with 125 – also an NHL record; Most wins in one season with 46 in 1990-91; Most losses in one season with 52 in 1969-70; Luc Robitaille with the most goals in their career scoring 557; Marcel Dionne scoring the most assists in their career with 757; Marcel Dionne scoring the most points in their career with 1307; Bernie Nicholls with the most goals in one season with 70; Wayne Gretzky tallying the most assists in one season with 122; Wayne Gretzky scoring the most points in one season with 168; and Rogie Vachon with the most career wins with 171.
The Los Angeles Kings have established a colourful and successful history with Hall of Fame players and many big achievements. There is no doubt they are looking to add that elusive Stanley Cup Championship to their portfolio.